Motivation and Pro-Environmental Behaviour - Managing Change

Course content

This course focuses on ways to motivate pro-environmental behaviour change.

Solving global challenges of climate change adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity conservation, provision of clean water, food, etc. all goes back to individual and social behaviour related to the environment. The key questions addressed in this course are: How can citizens – as consumers, producers, and community members - be motivated towards environmentally-friendly behaviour? This may entail reductions in energy consumption or use of pesticides on one’s farmland, a greater use of bikes or trains instead of cars, increased recycling, picking up litter in the park, buying organic products, or participation in social/political movements. What are different strategies to achieve behavioural change, and what effects do they have, both intended and unintended?

The course builds on theories about motivation and behaviour, theories of change, real life cases and practical tools to initiate and sustain behavioural change among individuals, groups, and organisations.

The motivation and behaviour theories span studies of specific, individual behaviour (e.g. theory of planned behaviour), to macro level studies of how behaviour is shaped by societal factors like infrastructure, technology, economy, public discourse and media debate. Some theories anticipate that human behaviour is guided by economic, rational choice, while other extend rationality to also include, e.g. considerations of individual limitations as well as values, and to take into account broader societal interests. Other theories, in contrast, focus more on habit, emotions, direct experience, and how this is formative for behavioural change.

Empirical interventions will be showcased throughout the course, such as political and grassroots campaigns (often via different forms of media), community engagement, role models, schemes, and taxes.

Based on real-life cases from private and public organisations engaged at various levels (municipal, national, global) on environmental issues and management, students will learn to apply these theories in the real world and become better equipped as citizens and future policy makers and policy influencers, to formulate intervention strategies to achieve desired changes. Students are also expected to consider the implications of behavioural theories on policy practice. How do the different ways we look upon human behaviour, enable or limit what becomes possible in relation to environmental behavioural change?



MSc Programme in Climate Change
MSc Programme in Forest and Nature Management
MSc Programme in Nature Management


Learning outcome

The aim of this course is to provide students with skills to understand, analyse and conduct change processes aimed at enhancing environmentally friendly behaviour. This is done by introducing students to a set of theoretical approaches to study motivation, behaviour, and behavioural change, and to enable students to apply these in their own work.

Based on the course, it is expected that the student can
- understand and describe a set of theories of motivation and behaviour
- understand and describe selected theories of individual, collective and structural change
- apply relevant behavioural theory to environmental cases, be it national park management, transport behaviour, recycling, energy and food consumption or private land management.
- suggest strategies and actions to enhance environmentally friendly behaviour in selected cases
- critically discuss opportunities and limitations to behavioural change in light of overarching political, legal, and structural conditions.


The course consists of lectures, real life cases and excursions, exercises, and students’ colloquia. During the course, the students work in small groups and prepare a group portfolio report where course literature is applied to real life cases. On this ungraded project, they will reflect upon a specific case in several report components delivered throughout the course, leading to a final written summary and reflection. The complete portfolio project + report entails the prerequisite to sitting for oral exam. The report may be referred to in the oral exam.

The course will be based on scientific articles and key references on 1) motivation and behaviour theory, and 2) strategies and tools for management of change in organizations and communities.

The course is designed to give students with a natural science background an introduction to theories of motivation, behaviour and change management. No prior knowledge of motivation and behavioral theories is required.

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

Students get feedback on the group report project component assignments and overall report, from the lecturers and from their peers. The report components are handed in at several points through the course and students receive feedback (in plenary and oral) for each, so it can be used for the next assignment and finally the group report handed in at the end of the course.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes
20 minutes + 20 minutes preparation time.

All aids allowed during preparation time.
Only certain aids allowed

All aids allowed during preparation time, but no aids allowed at the actual oral exam.

Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

See the criteria for Learning outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 40
  • Class Instruction
  • 16
  • Preparation
  • 78
  • Theory exercises
  • 64
  • Excursions
  • 8
  • English
  • 206